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Thousands of health insurance customers to be hit with premium rises as price changes not publicly announced

Thousands of consumers on some of the best-value health insurance plans are facing huge increases in premiums.

The hikes have not been publicly announced by the insurers.

VHI has increased the cost of 12 of its corporate plans by up to 10pc, in a move that will cost families up to €480 if they renew on the same scheme.

Laya has hiked the premiums by up to 6pc on 14 corporate plans, making them up to €210 a year dearer for families.

It comes just after Irish Life Health raised its premiums on most of its schemes, following two hikes last year.

Around half a million consumers renew their health cover this month, with a large chunk of VHI schemes coming up for renewal in the next two weeks, according to health insurance broker Dermot Goode, of TotalHealthCover.ie.

A succession of rate rises announced in the past year means renewal costs on all plans have jumped by between 15pc and 20pc.

This has added between €150 and €550 to the cost of renewing for a family of two adults and two children.

Some families’ renewals on the same plan have risen by €800.

At the start of this month, Irish Life Health premiums went up by 4.8pc for its 510,000 customers.

It announced rises at the start of last year with increases in July, and some plans also going up in November.

The latest Irish Life hike – and two previous ones announced in the past 12 months – will mean some Irish Life plans have soared by €600 a year for families.

Now VHI has increased the cost of 12 of its corporate plans, with effect from January 1. The rises on what it calls its PMI (private medical insurance) corporate plans range from 2pc to 10pc.

Plans called PMI 2912, PMI 0511 and PMI 5010 are going up by 10pc.

This means a family of two adults and two children would be facing ­increases ranging from €328 to €480 if they stayed on these plans, Mr Goode said.

Laya increased the cost of 14 of its corporate plans at the start of this month.

These include its Transform schemes and the popular Care Select and Principle corporate plans. The increases vary from 2pc to 6pc, depending on the plan.

Mr Goode said that for the average family insured on the Care Select or Principle schemes, this would cost them an extra €210 for the year.

Corporate plans tend to be better value and have superior benefits to other plans.

They are specifically designed to attract companies that pay for cover for their staff, but under the law they must be made available to anyone who asks for one.

Mr Goode said: “It’s important to note that many of the above plans didn’t increase in quarter three last year, but for these customers who were hoping to avoid any increases, they will be impacted by these new hikes from their next renewal.”

All Laya and Irish Life Health customers will see a small increase in their net costs from the start of this month.

This is due to a reduction in the level of tax relief available on health insurance plans from 20pc to 19pc.

“We understand this follows a review completed by Revenue where some benefits included on plans were not deemed eligible for tax relief,” Mr Goode said.

He said the change could add an additional €10 per adult, or €5 per child, to the cost of cover.

“The message for all consumers is simple – they must shop around for better-value cover to avoid these price hikes,” he added. “New plans are being introduced all the time with new deals being launched as well.”

Asked why there were no announcement about the latest rises, VHI said the timing of price changes on corporate plans differed from its general book of business. None of those 12 plans would have been adjusted in price in March or October last year, it said.

Laya said it reviewed its products and prices to ensure it was providing value for its 695,000 members.

“There are a small number of plans that will see a range of benefit and premium changes effective from January 1.

“With the exception of one scheme, Care Select, these plans were not impacted by the price increases we had in April and October 2023,” it said.

Laya said that from this month it was reintroducing its popular Kids Go Free limited-time offer on three plans.

This is where members can pay for one child, and the rest go free. ​

From this month, it is introducing a range of benefit changes and enhancements across a select number of plans, including enhanced fertility cover.

Source: Irish Independent